Sometimes you’ve got to give in to win

 

I must confess the truth.

Leaving Chicago has been the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.

I tried. I really did try to make it work. I gave myself completely to the demands of the city. I worked overnights, double shifts, all for minimum wage. Tried to mold myself to fit in to the different social groups – the comic, the newsmaker, the socialite, the designer, the athlete. I couldn’t find my niche, my people. I was never good enough to be first rank, always second at best.

I have never felt lower about myself and my worth than when I lived in Chicago. I worked for some pretty talentless, rude, and idiotic people. It still amazes me how some of the people I answered to were in their positions of power.

I told myself the struggle was normal, that it would pass. But you know what? That’s bullshit. Young professionals should NOT be killing themselves over their jobs. It is not fair, nor okay, for their bosses to say that their over-the-top sacrifices are necessary for the good of the company or the good of the team. Never should a person feel so low as I have felt and be okay with that. It is NOT okay. It is NOT okay to work for a company, a boss, or a department that allows you to feel empty, alone, exhausted, frustrated, un-appreciated, under paid, and damaging your personal life.

Young professionals are NOT brats, selfish, or lazy for standing up for what is right & deserved: good mental health, a challenging yet balanced work environment, and respect from their peers & bosses.

I left Chicago because it was a do or die situation. I made excuses for my misery. Luckily for me, I was challenged by someone I love to either do or die. I chose do. And while it’s been challenging on my pocket book, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am finally standing up for what I deserve. I am finally doing what I’m passionate about, even if it means cutting my livelihood in half. It’s amazing how much more you enjoy life when you aren’t dreading about doing something uninspired for 8+ hours of your day.

If anyone ever needs to talk to someone about hating their job, hating their path, being depressed, lost, confused, alone, frustrated. I’m your girl. Even though I’m free from my big city demons, I’m still challenged each day to continue discovering who I am and what path I’m on. So, I’m not completely put together & all knowing. But, I can empathize. I can listen. I can try to help others feel that they do have options, albeit different than what they may be comfortable with at first, but worthwhile in the longterm.

And hey, maybe one day I’ll lay out all my grievances about particular individuals & employers, because wouldn’t that be juicy & funny? But for now, I’m going to keep giving in to my wants and desires and ya know, just keep on winning.

Post inspiration brought to you by the song “Sunshine” by Atmosphere:

Why I succeed at failing

I have been letting myself down a lot this past year. I’ve been making excuses for why I’m treading water. I’ve been blaming the universe for giving me difficult circumstances, that prevent me from moving forward. I then decide that the solution to get away from all this negative juju invading my headspace is to well, move. Queue positive vibes & blissful living!

Nope. Maybe it was blissful living for the first two weeks, but then the frustration with life came roaring back.

You see, ever since I graduated from college almost 4 years ago, I haven’t felt fulfilled. Or, if I did feel fulfilled it was fleeting. My dreams were cut down by reality, so I adapted. But for me, adapting isn’t good enough. I tried the whole full-time job thing. Fine at first, and then life hit me again and again with dilemmas.

Caitlin, your family needs you.

But Caitlin, you have rent to pay.

Caitlin, live each day like it’s yours and their last.

Caitlin, how are you going to excel in your career, adulthood if you keep going off to follow your heart? 

I am a rational person. I would like to think I’m smart, even. Maybe even overly cautious sometimes when it comes to taking a risk. A square.

But when it comes to a career, I fly by the seat of my pants. My heart bleeds down my sleeve as I continue to search for that soulmate,  that fulfillment. I can’t force to do the easy thing and “just find a full time job until you figure it out.” That seems so wrong for me. Soul-sucking. Uninspired.

So, in the eyes of many, I continue to succeed at failing. Failing to conform to what generations before me did because “they had to,” but really did they? Failing to be comfortable with a steady income at a job that is just a job. Failing to do something “useful” and “productive” with my $50K+ college education, therefore disappointing my parents. Failing to be normal.

I always had said growing up that I would HATE working in an office if it wasn’t work I loved doing. “I’ll never take a job just for the money.” Well, I’ve done that in the past…slightly unavoidable Younger and Unknowing Caitlin.

But now, I’ve decided to embrace my failures. Things didn’t work out for a reason, because if they had would I really be my best self? My happiest? My most fulfilled? Maybe my failures are leading me up to a road of successes that just so happen to occur later in life, because I’ll handle it better then and not become a drug addict or fame whore.

I want to keep failing. If I keep failing then I’ll keep growing. If I keep growing then I’ll become a more evolved individual. If I become a more evolved individual then I will be fulfilled.

Simple enough, right?

More Hats

20 and even 30-somethings are beginning to create their own jobs. Saying “screw you” to those refusing to hire them until “they pay their dues.”

At only 24 years old, I have worn quite a few different hats in my life so far – soccer player, student, journalist, historian, manager, advisor.

And at only 24 years old, I still have so many hat possibilities! But…what if I’m trying on too many too soon?

I’ve found quite a few “happys” along the way as I’ve tried on those different hats. How long that happy lasts varies of course. I mean come on, I am a twenty-something. My attention span is pretty short lived and I’m in constant need for instant gratification.

It’s that feeling of being content that I have yet to discover. Seriously. Not even a glimmer. I have NO idea what being content with my life feels like. I’m in a constant state of unrest, with “what if I did this” thoughts flooding my stream of consciousness on a daily basis.

I’ve thought that traveling would quell that unrest, but then reality hits: I need money to travel. I need to keep improving my skills & abilities so when I am ready to “settle down” I am employable. I need to focus on one area so I have a better chance at getting a good job. I need to think of life after my 20s.

Is it really reality that is stopping me from doing the unthinkable – not choosing a path, not choosing to invest in a career, choosing to not choose? Or, is it the old expectations of generations past?

“I don’t think the human mind can comprehend the past and the future. They’re both just illusions that can manipulate you into thinking there’s some kind of change.” – Bob Dylan

I have incredibly supportive parents. They show their support the best by (mostly) keeping their career advice and opinions to themselves. My mom understands that a one-career life is no longer a realistic expectation of a person. Rather, multiple careers is almost the new expectation to survive not only the economy, but also to quell that unrest within ourselves.

The difference between the millennial generation and any other, is that we refuse to be miserable. We strive to find our happy. We strive to ruin expectations. We strive towards a greater understanding. Barriers are being broken. Lines are being crossed. Newness is being born every day.

So, is it possible to be content AND happy? Or, is happiness no longer a long-term plan, but rather a daily victory? Is being content unattainable until you “settle down?”

I’ve had co-workers of all ages. The ones closer to my parents age, really haven’t had to struggle as much to get their job. Obviously, things were different when they graduated from school. The ones closer to my age and up to 10 years older than I, have had to work the worst shifts, holidays, weekends, forgo personal events, etc. for YEARS before finally getting that job they deserve.

But now, 20 and even 30-somethings are beginning to create their own jobs. Saying “screw you” to those refusing to hire them until “they pay their dues.”

SO, LISTEN UP UNEMPLOYED 20-SOMETHINGS: Creation is the way to go. Create your own hat, because all the ones you’ve worn in the past, or are wearing right now, well, they’re going out of style.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” – Albert Einstein

Finding Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is Caitlin Fry’s mantra for 2015…and it should be yours too!

2015 has started well enough for C-P-Fry.

New job, new responsibilities, more time to read, workout, lay in bed, slow down and enjoy my surroundings in the city.

2015 is the year I will become a quarter of a century old. And apparently, the new thing to do is to have a “quarter-life crisis” since I’m a millennial trying to find a career in a very career-less world and therefore need to panic about my path.

I already did this panic dance last year, in 2014. So, I think my “quarter-life crisis” is going to be spent looking at the thousands of possibilities of what could be in store for the next 25 months of my life, rather than the next 25 years.

I don’t know if it’s logical to think about where you’ll be in 5 years anymore. The economy is too exhausting to follow. Careers are no longer lifelong adventures where you rack up multiple awards and plaques for your many years of service. Rather, they are a temporary solution to the life long problem of needing to make enough money to live… but you eventually bail after 36 months because you haven’t felt fulfilled, and if you don’t stop now you’ll lose your sanity in addition to your friends.

I’ll be honest. I studied journalism and history during undergrad. Hell, I was certain radio was for me – my dream. It still might be. But it isn’t right for me right now. I haven’t given up on my writing/story telling dreams. Not at all. Something just had to give after 2 years of intense hours, long commutes, and not enough pay.

Getting in the journalism game takes a brave, strong soul. One that can handle the long nights, even longer days, and lack of relationships. I admire those who have been able to juggle their sanity with their passion for storytelling.

Since starting my new job in management, I’ve been learning about emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.

If I could tell my fellow millennial one thing about how to find their “happy” on their road to self success it would be to develop and learn about your emotional intelligence. Seriously. This will make or break your sanity. It will change your outlook not only of how you operate, but it will also help you to chill the hell out when people around you are being complete morons. Because you’ll realize, what the fuck is the point of being mad or frustrated with dumbasses or dumbass situations when there is nothing you can do to change it, so what the hell, just do you.

Emotional intelligence your saving grace for 2015 everyone.

And Then There Were Two

Only two full months left until the end of 2014…and where do I see my year ending?

At my two jobs, in my cozy (I refuse to say tiny) studio apartment with my newly adopted senior kitty named after the Mother of Dragons and my constantly supportive and constantly corny boyfriend as my roommates.

While not all of my year goals may be accomplished before the year’s end, it’s not for a lack of trying. At least I’ll be 1 for 2 – moving out of my parent’s house and into my own.

Perhaps I’ll be 2 for 2 before the clock strikes midnight and 2015 starts us all refreshed and renewed, but for now I’m keeping my expectations low – hell, who doesn’t a love a good life-changing surprise?

But I will say, I should be taking more risks. Well informed risks, that is. I’ve made too many excuses. I need to work on that.

I keep saying if something’s meant to be, it’ll be. So, why am I so afraid to work harder for what I want, what I deserve?

Not having picked out one path doesn’t mean there isn’t “THE” path for me, it just means there are MANY different paths for me, and I should be excited about that, I should be enthusiastic about it, I should embrace it!

Stop thinking, and start doing!

So what’s next… grad school, move out West, career change? How about 3 for 3 in 2015?

Human beings are the only creatures on earth that allow their children to come back home.

Human beings are the only creatures on earth that allow their children to come back home. – Bill Cosby

Well, I’ve moved back in with my parents. Kind of. My dad travels five days out of the week for work, and my mom recently got a summer condo in Lake City, Minnesota to be closer to her 90-year-old father so they’re mostly up there. While they aren’t physically around much, I’m back in their home.

I’m back in my childhood home with my pickle green walls adorned with high school mementos. To say it’s weird is an understatement. I am incredibly grateful to my parents for their continued to support and welcoming me back with open arms, a warm bed, and a fridge full of food. No, my ego isn’t bruised. No, I’m not ashamed to live at home. This is the new reality for recent college graduates, even those who were INCREDIBLY active at their school.

I am truly blessed. I have a great opportunity to intern at WGN Radio News in one of the greatest cities for memorable moments, great opportunities, and life-defining challenges — Chicago. I am still telecommuting at my old job for the next few months, which is allowing me to keep busy and continue bringing in part of my previous income.

It’ll take a few weeks to get adjusted to seeing Naperville not as “I’m going to visit my parents” but “I’m going home,” again. It won’t be my forever home, I know that. But it will be my home for now because of all the love and memories that have been experienced in it.

Don’t be ashamed to go back home. Don’t take your parents generosity for granted. Don’t sell yourself short — just because you’re 22 and living with your folks doesn’t make you a failure. Wouldn’t you rather be ready financially and emotionally to break out into the world and find your first real place than forcing it to happen, when, maybe, it really just isn’t meant to be at that moment.

So go home. Even if you do have that first big job with health benefits, dental included, go home. Home is what shaped you. Home is what supported you. Home is your family. Home is your friends. And as you build your first home, just remember the homes that built you.

Censorship is SO 20th Century

I have spent many hours in my journalism classes at the UI thinking about the concept of censorship and social interaction in the media.

I’m a millennial and I grew up with the concept of computers and the fear and excitement of interacting with people online. When I think back on my first interactions on AOL Kids I think of chatrooms. Places where I could go and talk with other kids my age who had the same interests…or so I thought. Chatrooms are now a thing of the past and Reddit is where people flock to interject their two cents. Facebook chat, Twitter streams and G-chat have replaced AOL’s Instant Messenger. Oh those were the days… 

As I got to my upper level classes, I was advised (many times) to be careful about what I was putting out onto the internet “because you never know when or what a potential employer might find.” It makes complete sense for one to shelter their private life from their public life, especially if they were sheltered as a child with a lack of understanding about the effects of alcohol and drugs. But what confused me about the concept of censorship, was that in those same classes I was being exposed to photographs and videos of people becoming mince meat from an exploding bomb, not really leaving much to decipher that all that red used to be a human standing on that street corner.

I can’t even wrap my head around the concept or role that censorship has in our media nowadays with the evolution of social media, citizen journalists and a decaying social system. I didn’t want to see the footage of Louisville’s Kevin Ware snap through his skin, leaving a broken bone exposed for all to see, yet when I searched Google for an update on his story there it was, popped up on my browser for me to see not only his gruesome injury but my peanut butter sandwich I had eaten earlier.

Can we really expect people to have the same values as what was taught and promoted 20 years ago? I don’t think so. Yes, people want to see the truth, the reality, the rawness of events – so does that mean there is no longer a line that can be drawn and when one is attempted to be drawn, it creates more controversy then respect at the fact that the network chose to shield the public from another graphic image or audio?

So if I can’t expect the media to be censored, how can I expect to censor myself? I have all of these outlets I can use to share my disappointment and frustration with the poor customer service of a store and I can also share my progress in my fitness and health journey, ab shots included.

Is the tactic used by many journalists on Twitter “retweets not equal to endorsements” really that solid? And when will people stop trying to find dirt from a person’s past? Everyone has dirt, I mean even Pope Benedict had dirt from his childhood that was used to try to diminish his authority over the Catholic church. Have we turned into a society that is thankless, that’s always judging because it’s easier to do that now with photographic, video and audio evidence of a politician’s rowdy college days accessible on the internet?

Was censorship so badly misused in the earlier days of its conception that now we are at the other extreme — sanctioning the use of graphic, can-never-be-unseen-or-unheard images and audio clips, across the digital sphere that is accessible by people of all ages, all groups, all beliefs to do what they will with it?

I wonder how my 8-year-old cousin will perceive the country and the world that she lives in and how that will change as she grows older and is constantly exposed to the internet, social situations, and the media. I hope the value of her life is not determined by an electronic device. I hope that she does not becoming insensitive to injustice because she’s seen it so many times on TV or in movies. I hope that she remembers history and books and how things used to be and can be again. I hope she understands that it is okay to use censorship when she feels like the the outcome creates more bad than good.

I hope censorship finds its way back into the 21st century, appropriately and responsibly, someday.

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What Has Changed in Two Years, Besides Everything?

The last time I posted on this website was in Spring 2011. It is now Spring 2013. To say time flies is an understatement and a cliché. I’ve always been told my English teachers and college professors to avoid those.

Good and bad has happened in the past two years:

  • One of my beloved family dogs died unexpectedly while I was in Paris with my mom, causing us to shut down mentally for a couple of days, as we tried to work through our grief and quell the propelling desire to hop on the next flight to Chicago at Charles de Gaulle.
  • I started a new relationship with a boy with an itch to travel. We spent the first three months of our relationship apart with communication only occurring every 10 – 12 days and lasting 24 hours. He then jet-packed it to Peru three months later. Here’s to hoping we spend the next year in the same region!
  • I graduated from the University of Iowa a semester early, in December 2012. I didn’t walk and I ate lots of really delicious food that weekend. It didn’t hit me until my friends were back in school that I was done and that being done with college brings out your worst enemy — yourself. That is, if you aren’t lucky enough to go straight into grad school or have a job waiting for you once you cross that stage. I could never be a famous person — feeling like you’re being judged all the time is a bitch. Gotta remember that I’m good enough.

When people ask me where do I see myself in two years, I have no idea and that bothers me. Not because I want to have everything planned out (because, really, plans typically don’t work out with the grand scheme of life and its unexpected turn of events) but because I love having goals. I love working towards something. For (almost) four years I worked towards graduating college. I did that. Now to say my goal is to “find a job” isn’t a real goal to me. I need to actually think about what that simple and basis word – job or career – means to me.

Does that mean grad school is needed? Am I fit for law school like so many of my history professors suggested? Should I go teach English abroad for a year to see the world and experience another culture? What about my degrees, did I pick the right things to study or will I go into an entirely different market?

Being in your early 20s is the best and worst thing to happen to a person — you’re still young enough to eat what you want (to an extent, then your metabolism shrivels up and dies), you can stay out until 3 a.m. and wake up at 8 a.m. the next morning to make it work on time, drinking four drinks doesn’t lay you flat on your ass the entire next day, but then there’s the expectations of society and the “real world” once you graduate college. And your youth is thrown away and you need to grow up in 60 seconds or you’ll never move out of your childhood bedroom.

Your head is constantly turning and exploding when your in your early 20s, so much so that by your late 20s you just don’t give any more fucks about what so and so said about you or how to change up your makeup everyday so it’s fresh and exciting and you enjoy sleeping more than making an ass out of yourself at a party. By your late 20s, you’ve molded yourself to be like everyone else in the adult world — but don’t forget your memories of youth, for those are the inspiration to a.) refrain from acting immature in front of your boss and b.) try to revive that carefree and adventurous attitude on the weekends.

Your 20s aren’t the end of the world, just the really rock and awkward beginning of it.

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